Esko girls win Class A State True Team crownThe Esko girls track team was crowned the Class A Minnesota State True Team champions Saturday, but that was only half the story. Meeting at Esko’s Lincoln High School at 6 a.m., the Eskomos were poised and ready to catch the bus to Stillwater, Minn., for the championships.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
The Esko girls track team was crowned the Class A Minnesota State True Team champions Saturday, but that was only half the story.
Meeting at Esko’s Lincoln High School at 6 a.m., the Eskomos were poised and ready to catch the bus to Stillwater, Minn., for the championships.
“We didn’t have a bus,” recalled Esko Coach Tim Lindquist.
In a panic state, Lindquist got permission to take a school van with a group of early-morning field competitors. Travel time was running short, and Lindquist’s athletes could tell.
“I guess nobody booked the bus,” laughed sophomore Marisa Shady. “Coach was pacing around back-and-forth and freaking out. Then he took a van.”
“He was a little on edge,” added junior Kate Shelerud with a laugh.
After Lindquist sped off, the bus still didn’t arrive. That’s when sophomore Kallyn Knutson called her mother, Kari, who picked up a few more girls. Both Shady and Shelerud were along for the pickup.
“I just hopped in,” laughed Shelerud. “We had to get down there.”
“Vans just kept coming,” added Shady. “But we took it all in stride.”
That they did. After a pair of vans departed, the bus finally showed up and met the rest of the team for the championships just as they were getting started. Shady remembers things quite vividly.
“We just ran out there and asked if we could get a run through real quick, since we literally just got there,” she recalled. “Luckily, they said yes.”
After their staggered arrival, the Eskomos dominated the meet.
Esko finished the afternoon claiming a handful of first-place finishes and the school’s first ever True Team state championship.
“I’m not even sure if anyone has won it from our region ever,” said Lindquist. “Things turned out great. It was something pretty special.”
Although senior Alyson Glumac won the 100-meter dash, junior Caitlyn Lilly the long jump and Shady the 800-meter run, Lindquist noted it was his girls’ teamwork that shined over the weekend.
“No one person was more important than the other,” Lindquist said. “It’s the True Team. It’s a whole team event.”
Esko finished with 452 points, besting runner-up Blue Earth Area at 435 and Luverne at 372. Lindquist said both of those schools had been previous champions in their earlier trips to state.
The state title was a long time coming. Last year, Esko finished second, third for two years before that and sixth in 2007.
“We’ve been close the past few years,” Lindquist said. “But Saturday, the kids were pretty fired up and keyed for it. That was probably the best we’ve competed this year.
“The kids really hit their marks,” Lindquist continued. “They’ve had some success before, but they were at their best. We’ve been down there before and have gotten to know everyone pretty well. The pressure didn’t get to the kids’ best efforts.”
Lindquist said their team depth was pivotal.
“We really had some girls step up and make sacrifices,” Lindquist said. “Some even had to step into events they’ve never done before. And they did well.”
In addition to its three individual winners, Esko won both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays. Glumac, Shelerud, Lilly, Kallyn Knutson and eighth-grader Kailee Kiminski each placed third individually, while their 800 and 400-meter relay teams placed second and third, respectively.
But like her coach noted, Shady knew Saturday was all about the team.
“It’s one thing to win individually, but another to win as a team,” said Shady, also last fall’s state cross country champ. “We were so close last year and wanted it this year. I’m so proud of all the girls. There’s a real sense of accomplishment when you win as a team. And a real sense of pride.”
“It feels better to win as a team,” added Shelerud, last spring’s 400-meter track and field state champion. “Winning True Team is a big deal. It’s one of my top highlights.”
Lindquist said his bunch is a humble one.
“I told them after not to take this for granted,” he said. “The target is on our back.”
Like in True Team, the target is on Esko in sections as well. Having won the section for the past five years, there’s no doubt the Eskomos are again the favorites this week, as sub-sections get under way as this edition of the Pine Journal went to press Wednesday.